While shoplifting is not considered a major crime, if you are caught shoplifting and the shopkeeper decides to press charges, you will have to face the consequences based on the severity of the theft.
What Is Shoplifting?
According to the Canadian Criminal Code,
Shoplifting is a common term that usually refers to the offence of theft under the value of $5,000. It means taking something out of a store without paying for it.
The Canadian Criminal Code defines theft as taking the property of someone else with the intent to take it away temporarily or permanently from its rightful owner. A person convicted of theft under $5,000 as a summary offence can be fined up to $2,000 or imprisoned for up to six months or both. These are maximum penalties, however, and the penalties for a first offender would likely be much less severe.
Moreover, a person convicted of theft under $5,000 as a summary offence can be fined up to $2,000 or imprisoned for up to six months or both. These are maximum penalties, however, and the penalties for a first offender would likely be much less severe.
The Power Of Store Security
If the store owner, worker or security guard has the reason to believe that you are shoplifting the store security can hold you in their custody. However, know that they cannot keep you there for a long period and they are supposed to call the police right away. Moreover, you are not obliged to answer any questions asked by the store security guard or manager.
Shoplifting Is A Crime
Contrary to common belief, shoplifting is a crime. It is not a violation. Speeding and trespassing are considered violations, but they are not criminal acts. Hence, getting caught and being punished for speeding and trespassing will not affect your ability to travel or get a job.
On the other hand, if you are caught shoplifting, even if the item you are taking has little value, you will be charged for a criminal act. This means, charges will appear on your criminal record and you might face issues in the future. It will show up in background checks.
It Is Not About The Money
Courts in Canada seldom believe that shoplifting is about monetary gain. They believe shoplifting refers to deeper psychological issues or life conditions. Hence, the expungement of these charges, with a proper case, can be managed. There have been many cases where shoplifting charges have been removed for a combination of charitable donations, counselling, program attendance, or a letter of apology.
The long term effects of shoplifting criminal charges are much worse than its short term effects. If the Crown prosecutor chooses to treat the offence as a serious indictable offence, your sentence could be much more severe. Theft over $5,000 is a serious indictable offence and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
If you have committed a smaller theft and don’t get any prison time, you might feel you will be able to walk free with no consequences. However, that is not true. The details of the charges will appear on background checks. It might limit your ability to travel, and could hinder your ability to find work or housing.
About Slaferek Callihoo
Slaferek Callihoo lawyers are highly proficient at strategizing effective cases and have ample experience in dealing with criminal offences. Our experts create strategies that can lead to case dismissal, reduced charges, reduced penalties, and more. To get in touch with us today, click here.